The idyllic Cotswolds is a location many, including myself, may associate with family holidays and glamping getaways, but for a weekend in July every year they’re home to the epic 2000trees; a festival that is somehow equal parts charmingly wholesome and a raucous party.
Upon entering the festival and eavesdropping on fellow campers, we quickly gathered that many people have been coming to this event year after year — obviously an incredibly good sign to a first-timer like myself.
After setting up our tent in the sunshine that we’d be pleasantly graced with for the whole weekend, it was time to see some bands. First up we caught Black Foxxes on the Main Stage; they’d drawn in a sizeable crowd, clearly eager to kick-start their festival with the band’s atmospheric punk-rock. ‘Breathe’ from the first record, and the more recent ‘Joy’, especially went down a treat. After this, we went on over to catch Vukovi at the Cave Stage — one of the positives of this festival is the stages are five minutes or less apart from each other, so it’s completely possible to avoid any clashes at all. The Ayrshire pop-punk quartet was fantastically energetic and set what would be a welcome theme for the weekend; badass female musicians, and brilliant Scottish bands. Speaking of badass female musicians, Brighton quartet Black Honey absolutely rocked the Axiom Stage; frontwoman Izzy Phillips always dominates the stage with her enigmatic, powerful presence and this set was no exception. The band mixed fan favourites such as ‘Hello Today’ and ‘Corrine’ (which saw Phillips entering the crowd to sing with us) with newer songs such as ‘Bad Friends’ and ‘I Only Hurt The Ones I Love’; each song went down a treat and their set was definitely a highlight of the weekend.
After grabbing some food from one of the festival’s numerous food stands (plenty of choice for everyone; virtually every place offered a vegetarian/vegan option) we caught some of Baltimore punks Turnstile’s set before Marmozets took to the Main Stage. Becca MacIntyre is an effortlessly cool frontwoman and the whole band are a powerhouse live; from the thrumming ‘Is It Horrible’ to the defiant-sounding ‘Major System Error’, the Yorkshire rockers had the crowd thrashing against one another and yelling along to nearly every word. They were certainly a fantastic lead-in for post-hardcore veterans and today’s headliner, At The Drive-In, an impressive booking for the organisers of the festival for sure. This band have always had an incredibly dedicated following and their crowd at 2000trees certainly proved that — their enthusiasm for songs old and new, and even the enthusiasm of younger festivalgoers who may not know the band as well, was infectious and a testament to the festival’s punters who always make every band feel so welcomed. After At The Drive-In finished their impressive set with the iconic ‘One Armed Scissor’, those who weren’t ready for the party to end headed on down to the Forest Sessions stage to catch Thrill Collins who was immensely entertaining.
We kickstarted the Friday with Nervus on the NEU Stage; Em Foster was an incredibly charismatic frontwoman, as she’d go on to prove with her acoustic set later in the evening and her set with Funeral Shakes the next day. Nervus is a band that deserves far more attention than they get — their positive messages of LGBT inclusivity (Foster herself being trans) were conveyed impactfully during their set, and a few audience members were sporting symbols of pride. Next, we headed over to the atmospheric Forest Sessions stage to catch another fantastic Scottish band’s acoustic set — Fatherson. The wooded slope, which was full of festivalgoers relaxing to acoustic music and softer sounding sets all day long, was packed out for Fatherson’s Ross Leighton, who then stayed around to pay tribute to the late Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit. This memorial of his life was suitably emotional but also so delicately done — it was truly a celebration of the life he led and the lives he changed rather than simply mourning. The rain that began to fall — the only bad spot of weather all weekend — was quite fitting and cathartic, but to avoid being drenched we followed up the tribute with Manchester’s PINS in the sheltered Axiom Stage; their moody, cool post-punk intoxicated the tent and was balanced out by their on-stage interactions and ability to hype the crowd. Clearly, these girls are talented musicians and very good friends — they’re the kind of band who inspire young girls to want to pick up instruments and start a band themselves. We ventured out into the rain again for Fatherson’s main stage set, and it was definitely worth it; their uplifting, anthemic songs were echoed back by an enthusiastic crowd and the band were beaming for the whole set. They were the perfect band to grace the stage the same day fellow Scots Twin Atlantic were set to headline. Next up was Sløtface whose infectious feminist indie-punk saw many a mosh pit, which frontwoman Haley Shea requested be more inclusive of girls; an issue which certainly exists in punk music, but at 2000trees, seemed less prominent since virtually every crowd was incredibly accommodating and friendly.
We headed over to the Cave Stage to see Ho99o9, one of the most intriguing and looked forward to bands of the weekend and also one of the only bands to include people of colour- and they definitely lived up to the hype. Their blend of hardcore punk and hip-hop/horrorcore saw the crowd piling up on top of one another in intense, but incredibly fun, mosh pits that took up nearly half the tent. Their stage presence has been compared to bands like Death Grips and with songs like Bone Collector and The Dope Dealerz working the crowd into a frenzy it’s easy to see why. Ho99o9 was definitely the highlight of Friday, if not the whole festival. Icelandic and British all-female punk trio Dream Wife then rocked out the Axiom tent with feminist anthems such as ‘F.U.U’ and ‘Somebody’, calling attention to the numerous amazing female musicians playing the festival and also the pressing issue of predatory behaviour from certain men in the punk scene. Fangclub’s grungey sound went down very well, covering Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’, and Mallory Knox proved themselves worthy of their dedicated fanbase over on the main stage. Creeper was another high point of the festival — the Southampton horror punk group have built a huge following over the past couple of years, mainly through their impressive festival sets like the one they put on for the audience of 2000trees on Friday evening. Their set was a raucous sing-a-long, with a lot of crowd surfing and beaming faces in the audience. It didn’t even matter that they didn’t include fan favourite ‘Misery’ on the setlist since they brought back old crowd-pleasers ‘VCR’ and ‘Gloom’; they certainly demonstrated that they’re more than just a hype band. Now it was time for headliners Twin Atlantic; the Glaswegian rockers’ set was essentially a joyous, drunken shindig for many in the audience, with anthems like ‘No Sleep’, ‘Brothers and Sisters’, ‘Crash Land’ and ‘Free’ seeing the whole crowd belting every word. Twin Atlantic undoubtedly shine when they’re at a festival and it shows when they finished with the utterly anthemic ‘Heart And Soul’ — pints were raised left, right and centre as the Scots drew the live music of the day to a close. The night was far from over, however, as the Cave and the Main Stage were transformed into Silent Discos catering for most music tastes that went on until 3am.
We pushed our hangovers aside and emerged out of our tents to glowing sunshine in time to start the Saturday with Avalanche Party over on the main stage. The Leeds-based group churned out their Kasabian-tinged grunge with charisma and skill, songs like ‘I’m So Wet’ and ‘Solid Gold’ going down a treat. We followed this up with Sun Arcana who seemed endearingly nervous — they had no need to be since their atmospheric, emotional rock seemed powerful enough to fill stadiums. We managed to catch half of Funeral Shakes; as previously mentioned, Em Foster of Nervus plays in this band too, and the Axiom Stage was just as packed out as the NEU tent was for her other band. They were followed by Dream State, a Welsh pop-punk/post-hardcore group who have been making waves in the scene following the release of their May EP Recovery; CJ Gilpin is an impressive frontwoman, with the energy and pipes of Hayley Williams and screamed vocals that can match Becca Macintyre’s. Popular singles ‘White Lies’ and ‘New Waves’ saw crowd surfing and ample mosh pits. Now it was back to the Forest Sessions in order to see Undead Raisins and tonight’s headliners, Enter Shikari, perform acoustic sets. The forest stage is the perfect area to sit and cool down, chat to new people (never have I been to a festival where everyone was so genuine and friendly), and listen to undemanding, relaxed music. After a spot of technical difficulty, Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari performed lovely acoustic versions of ‘Redshift’ and ‘Live Outside’, as well as covers of Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’ and Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, which saw the whole forest singing along.
Demob Happy drew in a sizeable crowd of the more trendy looking of 2000trees’ punters; they got the audience dancing and tapping their feet to their fuzz-soaked bluesy grunge. Over on the main stage, Ipswich’s Basement brought their 90’s tinged pop-punk out into the sun and was incredibly well received; they finished with ‘Covet’ and ‘Promise Everything’, staples of England’s modern pop-punk scene. At this point, worn down by the sun and the previous night’s silent disco, we took a break to rest up for Enter Shikari — there was no chance we would risk being too tired to get properly stuck into them. This proved to be a wise decision as the headliner’s crowd was one that required buckets of energy- the St Albans electrocore quartet was relentless and their audience the same. From their epic stage and light set-up (including a dramatic countdown during their quickfire round, in which they tried to fit four songs into eight minutes) to their perfect setlist packed full of the most energetic, iconic tracks, Enter Shikari’s set was absolutely faultless. The veterans of the genre proved just how influential and how deserving of their years of success they are at Upcote Farm on Saturday night; Reynolds is a charismatic, humble frontman who can hype the crowd entirely. The most pits were accommodating, thrilling, and inviting, and people of all sizes and ages were crowd surfing with ease as everyone sang — well, screamed — to every word. I don’t for a minute doubt that many people woke up feeling very hoarse. At one point early on in the set, there was even a marriage proposal, which the band seemed humbled by. Perhaps the ultimate moment of the whole festival was the quickfire round of ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’, ‘Sssnakepit’, ‘…Meltdown’ and ‘The Jester’; we’d never been so grateful to be shoved so violently but so lovingly against strangers in our whole life.
Enter Shikari, followed by another round of the silent disco, was the perfect way to end a perfect festival. 2000trees was a beautiful experience; the crowds were so welcoming of every band and the bands all so grateful for every crowd, everything was easily walkable, the food was gorgeous, and the attendees were delightful and friendly. There’s a reason some people attend every single year — it’s so well run and well staffed, and as a young woman, I didn’t feel remotely unsafe at any single point. So, 2000trees, I’ll most likely be seeing you again next year!